Starbucks has been serving some of Colombia’s finest coffees since opening its doors in Seattle’s Pike Place Market in 1971. Since then, the company has grown to become the world’s largest purchaser of premium arabica Colombian coffee. Today, 99% of the coffee Starbucks buys from Colombia is verified through the company’s rigorous ethical sourcing program.
When Starbucks launched its groundbreaking C.A.F.E. (Coffee and Farmer Equity) Practices verification program in 2004, Colombia was among the first countries where these standards were implemented. As the program grew, Starbucks opened a Farmer Support Center in 2012 in Manizales, Colombia to provide more on-the-ground training and agronomy support to Colombian coffee farmers. This year, on Colombia’s National Coffee Day, Starbucks honored the more than 60,000 farmers and their families who have participated in C.A.F.E. Practices since 2012.
Alfredo Nuño, general manager of Colombia’s Farmer Support Center, leads a team of agronomists who work directly with farmers across 12 Colombian departments (country divisions similar to U.S. states).
“We engage with farmers as directly as possible,” said Nuño. “While it can be difficult to reach each and every one of them, we work with suppliers and technical teams via workshops, training and field days. We conduct field schools where farmers can come and see best practices in action.”
C.A.F.E. Practices, Starbucks third-party verified sustainability program developed with Conservation International, helps foster a long-term supply of high-quality coffee and positively impact the lives and livelihoods of coffee farmers and their communities. C.A.F.E. Practices includes guidelines in four key areas: quality, economic accountability and transparency, social responsibility and environmental leadership.
“With improved quality and high-productivity yields, participating farmers are able to negotiate better prices for their coffee,” Nuño said. “But it’s not just about the price; it changes how they work with their own coffee farm. At the end of the day, a coffee farmer participating in C.A.F.E. Practices will be producing more coffee, will better understand the cost of production, and be able to better conserve their natural resources.”
Since the Colombia Farmer Support Center opened, the team continues to evolve their approach to include new technology, changing climate conditions, and agricultural threats such as coffee rust.
“C.A.F.E. Practices is a dynamic and evolving program,” Nuño said. “It’s never static.”
Colombia Coffee Facts
Since forming a public-private partnership with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in 2013 with a $1.5 million investment, Starbucks has helped positively impact 25,000 farmers and expanded the collaborative program to the Tolima and Antioquia growing regions to benefit up to 10,000 more coffee farmers.
In Colombia’s North Cauca region, agronomists at the Farmer Support Center have expanded C.A.F.E. Practices to more than 1,200 indigenous coffee growers.
Colombia coffee is a key component of Starbucks® Espresso Roast, the heart of Starbucks handcrafted espresso beverages around the world and beloved as a single-origin coffee as Starbucks® Colombia Nariño and Starbucks® Colombia.
Starbucks opened its first retail store in Colombia in 2014, and serves 100% locally sourced Colombian coffee in its handcrafted espresso beverages throughout the country’s retail stores.
This year, Starbucks Colombia will host the Starbucks Latin America Barista Championship Experience, an annual event recognizing baristas, their beverage artistry, and passion for quality.
About Starbucks Farmer Support Centers
Starbucks operates Farmer Support Centers in key coffee-growing regions around the world to provide local farmers with resources and expertise that can help lower their cost of production, reduce pest and disease, improve coffee quality and increase the yield of premium coffees. Starbucks opened its first Farmer Support Center in 2004 in Costa Rica, and has opened new centers in China, Colombia, Ethiopia, Indonesia, Rwanda and Tanzania.